Chopping Down the Family Tree of Misery…

Just when I think that old gnawing discomfort caused by mentally reviewing the past has finally gone away…something else occurs to bring it back to the forefront. It may never be done because there is just too much misery to go around and too many players who failed to get the memo that we were planning to improve ourselves and our lives.

That something else, which recently occurred was tragic, saddening and completely preventable. It came out of the blue and if I had been asked whether I thought such a thing could happen I would say, no, even though anything awful is highly possible with my family. I’m still processing why it came about at all and remain puzzled as to how I even talk about it because no matter how I word it I will always, forever, be part of the problem with this one. To say I didn’t know things were so bad is a lie and to say there wasn’t anything I could have done different is just the same old lip service we apply to every negative cloud following us.

Misery does indeed love company

A little over a week ago one of my adult nephews died. The circumstances remain uncertain and they probably always will remain so because his father, my oldest brother, chose not to have an autopsy and the local coroner hastily called this senseless death “natural causes.” Case closed. We have no way of knowing one way or another what really happened but I do know for sure that it was, in part, a death caused by emotional and mental neglect with 100% certainty. The death of our father was expected and, if you’ve read any of my other work, that event was greeted with relief but this? This loss was shocking because of my nephew’s young age and also because it took so long for anyone to even notice he was dead.

I feel like I need to provide a bit of back-story here but honestly, I have very little additional information to provide. You see, I didn’t know this nephew very well and had only been around him maybe a handful of times over his sad, short life. None of this was his fault, it was entirely my fault for not trying harder to be present in his world. I fell into the “judging” trap that my family so despised from outsiders yet they gleefully heaped judgment high within family ranks without hesitation. Tearing each other down is a familial pastime after all and the sins of the parents get readily transferred to any offspring in this ragged clan. It’s not an excuse. It’s a huge part of one of our many problems.

Because of our less than warm relationship with our oldest brother the negative feelings felt for him impacted the way we interacted with his children, our nephews. It was one side of the family against the other even though we were all just as damaged inside. It made no sense but here we are now, standing amongst the rubble of yet another life destroyed by generational anger, abuse and neglect of soul. To an outsider we would appear cruel but to us it was just “normal” behavior. “Oh, you won’t talk to me? Well, I will just shun your whole family!” We reap what we sow…still.

We were not normal then and we aren’t normal now…

To the point on why it took so long for my nephew to be found: one has to understand that peculiar deficiency in humanity we all inherited from the Grand Patriarch, my recently deceased abusive father. Indifference. We all, at one point or another in our lives were indifferent to the suffering each one of us experienced. Granted, some hurt and got hurt more than others but the inability to express that pain in real-time or recognize it in each other is but one of the many side effects of abuse that went unnoticed for decades.

And so, because we were brought up in “every man for himself” mode we don’t always see how disturbing it may be to fathom someone’s son, nephew, cousin, and grandson going to bed one night, passing away and then not being discovered until 24 hours (even possibly 48 hours) later. To care so little as to simply not see the importance of checking in, paying attention or, giving a damn.

I see it now.

The horror is setting in.

To be so broken yet unable to see the multiple layers of cracks and sharp edges ready to cut and maim.

Sickeningly broken.

I don’t know the exact events that led up to my nephew’s passing and I won’t speculate on his life because I wasn’t part of it. Also, neither my brother nor my mother will speak to me about it because I am effectively dead to them as well. I DO know that this occurred as a continuation of the misery perpetuated by this particular DNA chain, a tragic chain that needs to be broken, reconstructed and fortified with kindness, patience and love. This didn’t have to happen and I know I don’t bare all of the blame but I still feel leveled by the extent of damage one man started and the unfortunate progeny who continue to carry on his harmful legacy. To say our experiences combined had nothing to do with this particular loss would be foolhardy because pain begets pain and until it’s healed it won’t stop.

Please, let it stop!

It must stop for my nephew’s sake and for every other potential casualty of this family tree strewn with hollow, disease ridden limbs. Let the suffering stop here and now because we can be better than this.

We MUST be better than this!

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

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